Pepe Makes Champions League History, Defies Age With Spectacular Performance Against Arsenal at 41

Pepe Makes Champions League History, Defies Age With Spectacular Performance Against Arsenal at 41

Isaac Darko
updated at March 13, 2024 at 7:08 AM
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  • Ex-Real Madrid star, Pepe, featured for FC Porto against Arsenal on Tuesday night
  • The Portuguese is still going strong even in a Champions League football knockout
  • Pepe has also become the first outfield player over the age of 40 to play in the UCL

At 41 years old, the history-making Pepe showcased a defensive masterclass against Arsenal on Tuesday night.

After a tense penalty shootout, Mikel Arteta's squad sealed their spot in this season's Champions League quarter-finals by defeating FC Porto.

The Gunners equalised the second-leg match with a first-half goal from Leandro Trossard.

Gabriel Jesus, Pepe, UEFA Champions League, Arsenal, FC Porto
Gabriel Jesus shoves into the back of Pepe during the UEFA Champions League match between Arsenal and FC Porto. Photo by Charlotte Wilson
Source: Getty Images

Following a gruelling 120 minutes, victory finally came Arsenal's way, with Martin Odegaard, Kai Havertz, Bukayo Saka, and Declan Rice all successfully converting their penalties, per ESPN.

David Raya's remarkable save low to his right, denying first-leg goal-scorer, Galeno, capped off yet another unforgettable European night at the Emirates Stadium.

The Spaniard's stellar performance played a pivotal role in ending Arsenal's nearly two-decade-long absence from the Champions League quarter-finals, a feat last achieved by the Gunners in 2010.

Nevertheless, amid Arsenal's latest triumph, the standout performance of veteran centre-back, Pepe, garnered widespread attention - and rightfully so.

Pepe makes history

The ex-Real Madrid defender showcased an unwavering and resolute performance against one of the Premier League's top-performing teams, rallying his teammates with relentless determination throughout the gruelling 120-minute clash.

Pepe, who shares the same age as Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, achieved a historic milestone after the match as the first outfield player over 40 to feature in the Champions League, per SportBIBLE.

To provide additional context, the FC Porto captain made his debut in the competition as far back as 2004.

Raya leads Arsenal to last 8

Sports Brief also reported that the stage is almost set for the quarter-finals of the 2023/24 Champions League, with notable teams like Arsenal and Barcelona in the lineup.

After a tense encounter, the Gunners clinched their spot in the quarter-finals on Tuesday, prevailing over Porto in an exhilarating penalty shootout to set history of their own.

Isaac Darko photo
Isaac Darko
Isaac Darko is a La Liga, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga editor at Sports Brief with a Degree in Journalism and Communications from Ghana Institute of Journalism (2010)